As your inboxes and social media channels fill with information about COVID-19, we at Sexual + Being thought it was important to remind District of Columbia (DC) residents about a crucial sexual health resource — GetCheckedDC, DC’s free at-home HIV testing program.
Regularly testing for HIV and knowing your status is important. By taking the test, no matter your results, you are actively grabbing the steering wheel to manage your health, on your terms. After taking the test you’re able to know for sure 1) if you have contracted HIV and that you can seek out treatment, care, and prevention services; 2) if you have not contracted HIV and can seek out care and prevention services such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Although it’s normal to feel worried about regularly testing for HIV, you can reduce a lot of anxiety by going to get tested, followed by seeking out additional treatment, care, and prevention services.
Many conversations about regularly testing for HIV fail to center the individual taking the test and mainly focus on sexual partners. It’s important to recognize that regularly testing is about you and taking the test should support you in recognizing that you are your own best advocate. As a reminder, regularly testing for HIV should involve your full consent, be confidential, and allow you to feel a sense of autonomy as you have taken control of your health.
Resources such as GetCheckedDC streamline your ability to get tested in an affordable, confidential, and accessible way. Although the social distance-informed service requires your name and address, confidentiality remains key. The package will be unmarked and discreetly labeled. The at-home HIV test is safe and easy with the OraQuick rapid HIV test. You’ll swab the inside of your mouth and get the result in 20 minutes. Before taking the test and after receiving your immediate results, it may be helpful to text, call, or video chat a friend for support. Whether virtual or in-person, it’s always helpful to have at least one close friend or family member by your side as you receive your results.*
If you have questions about the kit or your results, the DC Health and Wellness Center staff is available for video or phone appointments. Call (202) 741-7692 to set up a time to talk. Also, OraSure—the manufacturer of the OraQuick at-home HIV test kit—has a 24/7 support center. Call (866) 436-6527 to be connected to local resources. If you’ve recently used GetCheckedDC and want another test, you can request another test kit in three months, or email GetCheckedDC@dc.gov.
While cities continue to re-open and close, we know that COVID-19 continues to impact everyone socially, economically, and politically. Although folks are socially distancing, it’s important to remember that COVID-19 is also impacting people’s sexual health. Nevertheless, as more time is spent at home, people are having more sex. Period. Testing for STDs, especially HIV, must continue to be prioritized. Whether you’re accessing COVID-19 testing in person or via mail, also consider adding STD testing, especially HIV, to your testing checklist.
In addition to HIV testing, GetCheckedDC will soon offer other STD testing including chlamydia, genital warts, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, herpes, and human papillomavirus (HPV). Interested in a free HIV testing kit? Request one here!
* If the results of your at-home test cause you stress or anxiety or trigger feelings of trauma, please call the DC HelpLine at 888-7-WE-HELP (888-793-4357). If you have concerns about testing, your test results, or other sexual health matters, consider speaking with a counselor from community agencies before you do your test (check LinkUDMV.org). You can also schedule an appointment with the DC Health and Wellness Center at (202) 741-7692 to get support.